SA to host EU-SADC joint council

South Africa will on Tuesday host the first European Union (EU) – Southern African Development Community (SADC) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) joint council meeting.

The meeting which will be held in Cape Town will provide an opportunity for the ministers of the SADC EPA states and the EU to discuss the state of play in the trade between the parties and how the EPA can contribute to inclusive and sustainable development.

The ministers will also consider a number of procedural issues such as the approval of the rules of procedure of the various committees created to oversee the implementation of the EPA, said Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

“The core objective of the SADC EPA Group and EU’s joint efforts in implementing the agreement must be to ensure that the EPA enables sustainable development in the SADC EPA states through changing the structure of trade, including the fundamental structural imbalance in the trade between the parties, and promote enhance value-added trade,” says Davies.
South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Namibia signed the EPA that has been negotiated with the EU in June 2016.

The EPA provisionally entered into force on 10 October 2016 – replaced the trade chapter in the Trade Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) between SA and the EU that entered into force in 2000.

Through the EPA, South Africa gained improved market access into the EU for agricultural products such as wine, sugar, ethanol, and fruit, as well as for fisheries. SA exports to the EU have increased from R214 billion in 2015 to R262 billion in 2017.

Davis says SA exports to the EU are led by vehicles which contributed 26% of the country’s total exports to the EU in 2017.

This is followed by precious stones and metals, nuclear reactors, edible fruit and nuts and ores, slag and ash which contributed 17%, 8%, 8%, and 7% respectively in the same year.

“Although South Africa has managed to increase exports of value-added products to the EU, thus contributing to South Africa’s industrial development objectives, there is still a need for further improvement in changing the structure of trade,” said Davies.

– SAnews.gov.za

Belarus President: We are ready to merge with Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko as they meet each other in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, on August 22, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / Alexey NIKOLSKY

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko announced after a three-day bilateral meeting with Russia President Vladimir Putin, that Belarus is ready to merge with Russia. Russia could incorporate Belarus in a similar fashion to how they absorbed Crimea.

The Russia-Belarus merger is expected to happen before 2024, as Lukashenko said that Belarussians are ready for the union as both state and people are ready to consolidate effort together.

Russia president Vladimir Putin noted that completely independent states do not exist in the world, as many countries are dependent on their neighbors.

Both President Putin and Lukashenko have welcomed the idea of unification as this will create a new state and new map for both Russia and Belarus.

Source: themoscowtimes.com

India and Russia to discuss military cooperation

Image Source: Financial Express

Russia and India are expected to discuss military cooperation during India’s Aero Show 2019 says an official of the Russian State conglomerate Rostec, Viktor Kladov. The India Aero show 2019 will run from 20 February to 24 in Banglore.

Russia is looking to make clear the final technical issues of the project to produce Russian Ka-226T helicopters in India, said Kladov, Rostec’s director for international cooperation and regional policy. Russia expects to sign a contract with India.

Indo-Russian helicopters, a joint venture was registered in India, in May 2017 and will be located near Banglore.


Source: Xinhua 

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams leading South Africa to digital transformation

Speaking to Africa-Europe high-level panel on digitisation in Austria the newly appointed minister expressed the following words:

“African countries may also want to discuss at the intergovernmental level, issues of internet governance, cybersecurity, and the new emerging technologies that impact our people; and as such, we hold a stern view that this should not just be a discussion limited to developed countries.”

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams was appointed Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services in March 2017. Between October 2011 and March 2017, Ndabeni-Abrahams served as the Deputy Minister of Communications. 

At the time, in 2011, she was the youngest minister in former president Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet at the age of 34. From 1990 to 1994 she served as a member of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) in East London before becoming a member of its national executive committee from 2008 to 2010. 

She is also a member of the African National Congress Eastern Cape provincial executive committee.  In November, she was sworn in as Ministers of Communications and she will also oversee the Department of Telecommunications after South African president Ramaphosa announced changes to his Cabinet.

Full Article in BRICS Journal Print Issue 7

South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation issues a statement on US, UK and Germany memorandum

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) notes with disappointment the dispatching of a Memorandum to the Office of The Presidency by the Embassies of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. This is a departure from established diplomatic practice.

In terms of acceptable diplomatic practice, protocol and convention, diplomatic missions are expected to communicate to the receiving state by means of a note verbale (diplomatic note) conveyed through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. All embassies, regional and international organisations accredited to South Africa are aware of this protocol and universal norm. South African diplomatic missions abroad consistently observe this protocol by directing official communication to the respective foreign ministries in the countries of accreditation.

The South African government is intensifying its efforts to deepen and expand economic relations with a number of countries around the world, and is pleased with the enthusiastic response its efforts have yielded thus far. All matters that have been raised by investors are being addressed by the respective clusters of our government. We are satisfied that all the branches of our democratic state, including state agencies, are vigorously pursuing their respective mandates to address our current challenges.

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, has instructed the Department to demarche the concerned Ambassadors with a view to discussing substantive matters contained in their correspondence, and to reiterate acceptable protocol in addressing such matters.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation would like to remind all diplomatic missions accredited to South Africa to address official correspondence through the appropriate diplomatic channels.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

THE NEW PRESIDENCY OF BRAZIL AND THE UPCOMING CHALLENGES

Brazil enters a new phase of politics since it democratized itself again in 1985, after 21 years of a military dictatorship that had been stimulated by Operation Condor, from the United States of America, and that influenced the directions of all of Latin America. Jair Bolsonaro represents a jump in the dark because, in addition to a much below average parliamentary career, was elected under a strong scheme of fake news illegally funded by enterprises throughout social media.

Even before the start of 2018 election campaign, Bolsonaro gained notoriety for exposing a line of reasoning completely out of modern world’s reality. He spoke against the brazilian black people on several occasions, against women, against the LGBT population. He positioned himself in favour of innocent death in wars, methods of torture, cursing women reporters and parliamentarians in front of the cameras. He honored the main torturer of the military dictatorship political police several times.

Curiously, after all Bolsonaro was elected without attending the traditional presidential debates, only by the force of the fake news and the algorithm manipulation in the social networks. This makes it very difficult to know what to expect from the next government. Bolsonaro, however, gave some rather significant signals about the political course that Brazil is expected to follow in the next few years. During campaign he had salute the US flag and promise to deliver natural resources and military strategical structures to the Americans.

A few days after elected, Bolsonaro continues to demonstrate his inability to gauge the consequences of his speeches and generates negative repercussions worldwide. He has already announced the end of the ministry of labor, the intention to charge monthly fees at public universities, to create distance learning schools over the internet, and to give police forces freepass to kill. He announced on facebook the persecution of teachers, student organizations and even the press who opposed the new government.

In international politics it has not been different. He has already spoken against Mercosur, the common market of South American countries that is important for regional development, against China that is the main commercial partner of Brazil, showed signs of distancing from the BRICS cooperation initiative and announced the change of the Brazilian embassy in Israel, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Recent announcements have created tensions in Brazil’s diplomatic relations with South America, the European Union, BRICS and the Arab countries.

There is also a delicate issue that is unfolding on the border with Venezuela. NATO sends troops to Colombia, while the United States military, in addition to donating tanks to the Brazilian army, carries out unprecedented military exercises in Brazilian territory, near Venezuela. Donald Trump is airing the possibility of military intervention in the Bolivarian Republic and one of Bolsonaro’s son, who is a federal deputy, has already spoken openly about the war with Venezuela. In other words, due to the 2018 election, there is a more favorable conjunctural alignment for military aggression against Nicolas Maduro.

So, what is expected for the upcoming years is a Brazil, once again, on its knees before the traditional western politics, the withdrawal of historical rights won through the workers’ struggle and a substantial surrender of the national patrimony to foreign interests and of the public patrimony to the greedy private initiative that wants to increase the rates of profit by suppressing the Brazilian people’s dignity. There was a complete reversal of the role that Brazil had been ready to fulfill in recent years.

The Brazilian people are facing a new moment of struggle for sovereignty, self-determination and the maintenance of peace. A new moment of resistance begins for the consolidation of a multipolar world where Brazil can fulfill the active role that has always fulfilled in the articulation of the new world.

By Henrique Domingues

Russian warns against military intervention in Venezuela

 

Russia has warned the USA against any military action on Venezuela, this comes after the US called newly sworn in President Nicolas Maduro illegitimate and recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela.

According to CNN.com Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabko warned not just the US but everyone against any military action on Venezuela as this could lead to far deeper devastation then the current economic crisis facing the country.

President Nicolas Maduro also hit back given all USA dignitaries 72 hours to leave Venezuela and calling Juan Guaido attempt to declare himself president equal to a Coup. The Venezuelan military has also sworn its allegiance to Nicolas Maduro, leaving Guaido with little bargaining power.

Former US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also warned US leaders against intervening militarily in Venezuela, sighting previous US led regime change in Latin America as causing more problems than they solved and tarnishing US credibility as reported by Sputnik International.

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

South Africa officially takes its seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council

South Africa today officially assumes its seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the period 2019-2020.

South Africa was overwhelmingly elected to serve on the Council by the United Nations General Assembly on 8 June 2018. As President Cyril Ramaphosa reflected at the time: “This will be the third time that South Africa will be serving in the Security Council since the dawn of democracy in 1994. We are humbled and honoured by the confidence the international community has demonstrated in our capability to contribute to the resolution of global challenges.”

South Africa’s tenure in the Security Council will be dedicated to the legacy of President Nelson Mandela whose values and commitment to peace were commemorated last year during the centenary of his birth. South Africa’s term will also be an opportunity for the country to work towards the African Union’s goal of “Silencing the Guns” on the Continent by 2020.

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu today stated that: “The world is facing huge challenges, including rising unilateralism and widening geo-political divisions. These challenges threaten our collective resolve to address global challenges of peace, security and development. South Africa will thus utilise its tenure on the Security Council to promote the maintenance of international peace and security through advocating for the peaceful settlement of disputes and inclusive dialogue. We will continue to encourage closer cooperation between the UN Security Council and other regional and sub-regional organisations particularly the African Union. We would further wish to emphasise the role of women in the resolution of conflict. This, during our time on the Council, South Africa will ensure that a gender perspective is mainstreamed into all Security Council resolutions in line with UNSC Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security.

The Minister concluded that: “South Africa looks forward to collaborating with all other members of the Security Council in promoting the maintenance of international peace and security and the social well-being and advancement of all the peoples of the world.”

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

Russia unveils Peresvet laser system

The Russian Peresvet laser system which is designed to destroy targets in seconds was unveiled by Russia over the weekend and is now in combat service. Named after the warrior monk Alexander Peresvet, Russia has been testing the weapon throughout the year and is now being issued to military.

The aim in creating the weapon is to modernize the Russian military; the laser is capable of shooting down missiles as well as aircraft. The laser weapon was first announced in March by Russian president Vladimir Putin in his state of the nation address.

So far the laser weapon is the first of its kind to be announce and put in to service giving Russia an edge over it competitors while also pushing modern weaponry in to an new age. China and USA are also developing laser weapon systems but non so far have made similar announcements.

Source: businessinsider.co.za

Deputy President David Mabuza to visit South Sudan

Deputy President David Mabuza in his capacity as President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Special Envoy to South Sudan will undertake a regional consultative Working Visit to three member states of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) as part of the efforts towards lasting peace and stability in South Sudan.

The Deputy President will visit Nairobi in the Republic of Kenya, Kampala in the Republic of Uganda and Khartoum in the Islamic Republic of Sudan to hold consultative meetings with the Heads of State and Government of the three countries in order to facilitate a peace process that will see the full implementation of the Revitalised Peace Agreement on South Sudan.

Deputy President Mabuza will hold bilateral meetings with President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, as well as President Omar Al Bashir of the Sudan.

This working visit builds on the October 2018 consultations with IGAD Member States. The Deputy President will also strengthen political, social and economic relations between South Africa and these three IGAD Member States.

Issued by the Presidency of the Republic of South Africa